PR came home from 7th grade one day this week and calmly informed me that a student in one of his classes had been expelled for "smoking weed" at school. He then stared at me in that way he has which demands a parental response from me. Not just any parental response, but one he is going to judge me on. I saw it in his eyes, the curiosity as to exactly what I would say about this important information he chose to share.
I'll be honest here. This was one of those parenting moments. A moment you know your teen is going to remember. This is when I always choke as a mom. I am really not good in these situations. I confess, the thought that immediately went through my head was, "Bill Clinton smoked weed, but he says he didn't inhale." (No I did not voice that thought out loud. But nonetheless, just having the thought means I flunk as a parent.) Why, oh why, don't they offer parenting classes for parents of teens?
First of all, teens don't confide very often. Not regarding drugs, alcohol or sex at least. When they do they expect a well thought out response. The problem is, when they do I am never expecting it. I find myself flabbergasted, taken off guard, and frantically searching my brain for the perfect parental wisdom to impart. In this case, I tried to buy myself some time by saying, "That was pretty stupid for him to smoke at school." PR looked at me thoughtfully and said, "It was a girl mom and she is BIG, I think maybe almost seven feet tall."
OK, so now I am sexist, in addition to being inadequate – why did I assume it was a boy who smoked weed and got expelled? Also, the thought crosses my mind, fleetingly, that if I was a seven foot tall girl maybe I'd be smoking weed too. Yes, I am a complete failure as a parent.
I found myself pausing to see if PR would say anything else. PR is the quietest and shyest of my three kids and it is often like pulling teeth to get him to talk. He didn't say a word, he just continued to look at me expectantly. I took a deep breath (yes, I inhaled!) and I began my mom-talk. You know mom-talk … when you say all the things you are supposed to say about wise decisions, thinking before acting, long-term consequences, etc. I also told him that now that he's in 7th grade (soon to be 8th) he will be exposed to a lot more in the way of drugs, alcohol, and kids making poor decisions. PR seemed quite satisfied with the whole conversation by the time we were done and I thought maybe I did okay after all.
That's the problem … how do you know if you've said the right thing?